Thursday, February 17, 2011

Phil Knight - Entrepreneurial Thinker

Philip Hampson Knight is an American billionaire. He is the founder and CEO of the athletic gear company known as Nike, which is the number one athletic shoe company in the world. Together, Philip Knight and the Nike Corporation helped start a sports business revolution in the 1970’s, changing old-fashioned tennis shoes into highly specialized equipment and promoting them as symbols of athletic prowess and success. The success of Nike has made Philip Knight one of the wealthiest men in the world. As of 2007, Knight’s 35% stake in Nike gives him an estimated net worth of $9.8 billion, making him the 30th richest American. Over the years Knight has earned a reputation as both a visionary businessman and a hard-nosed CEO.  He resigned as the company’s chief executive officer (CEO) as well as the president of Nike in 2004, while still maintaining the position of chairman of the board and advisory to the company.
Philip Hampson Knight was born on February 24, 1938 in Eastmore, which is a suburb of Portland, Oregon. He is the son of William W. (publisher of the Oregon Journal as well as a lawyer) and Lota (Hatfield) Knight (stay-at-home wife and mother). Philip Knight attended Cleveland High School where he excelled at track and field. Knight’s interest in running track continued throughout his years at the University of Oregon,  where he distinguished himself as a mile runner. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a BBA in 1959, Knight went on to earn his masters in Business Administration at Stanford University.
Right after graduating from the University of Oregon, Philip Knight enlisted in the Army and served one year on active duty and seven years in the Army Reserves. During this period of his life, Philip Knight attended Stanford Graduate School of Business where he realized that he is meant to be an entrepreneur. After graduation, he became employed as a CPA, however, shortly thereafter he realized that this was not the type of work that he wanted to do. In 1963, Knight decided it was time to put his business school plan into effect.
The interest in sports, especially that of track, gave Knight the impetus to study the way that track shoes were being made and marketed in the late 1950s. Knight contacted Bill Bowerman, his former track coach from the University of Oregon. Working together, they determined that American shoes were inferior in style and quality, too heavy, and too easily damaged. By doing intensive research, they learned that the Japanese’s were trying to manufacture shoes using light-weight durable nylon.  He later became personally involved by arranging to import the new trimmed down styles to America. He started a company that he called Blue Ribbon Sports. Knight made a purchase of 200 shoes and began selling them out of the trunk of his car at local track meets. In 1965, the first Blue Ribbon Sports store was opened in Santa Monica, California and Bowerman began experimenting with his own designs for durable, lightweight, supportive sports shoes. By the year of 1970, Knight and Bowerman had twenty employees scattered around his stores as well as his East Coast Distribution Center. Blue Ribbon Sports had revenues of just under $300,000 and promising potential, but they needed venture capital to expand. In 1971, they sold shares to a handful of friends for $5000 and arranged further financing in Japan, where they began manufacturing their own model of soccer shoe for import to the United States (American Decades). They changed their company name to Nike and adopted the well-known logo, called the Swoosh. And the rest is history. Nowadays, you see Nike products, such as shoes, shirts, pants, shorts, jackets, hats, etc.. everywhere you go. 
According to article in the Encyclopedia of Business, Knight said that there were three separate events that lead to his success as the leader of Nike. The first event occurred in 1957 when he first meets Bowerman. Bowerman was a former Olympian who had a passion for athletes and innovation, which would eventually inspire Knight to create a business dedicated to those two things. The second event occurred while he was attending business school at Stanford University. One of his business professors gave him an assignment where he had to devise a business plan for importing- high quality running shoes from Japan and then sell them in the United States at a high-profit margin. The third event occurred in1963, when Knight actually traveled to Japan in order to have meeting with the executives of Onitaska Company, which distributed the Tiger running shoes. The final result of these three particular events was the creation and success of the Nike empire.
Submitted by Cheryl Haynes


Krentzman, Jackie. “ The Force Behind the Nike Empire.” Print .

“ Nike.” American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, Victor Bondi, Richard Laymam, 
             Tandy McConnell, and Vincent Tompkins. Vol. 8: 1970-1979. Detroit: Gale,
              2000. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Anne Arundel Community College.
              23 Sept. 2009.

“ Philip Knight.” Newsmakers 1994, Issue 4. Gale Research, 1994. Reproduced in 
              Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.    

“ Philip Knight.” Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Vol. 19. Gale Group,
              1999. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale

Philip Knight.” Business Leader Profiles for Students. Gale Group,
              1999. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Genzo Shimadzu - Not a lot of hot air

In 1875 scientist Genzo Shimadzu would visit the Chemistry Bureau in Japan often.  He began by making physical and chemical instruments.  He would sit in on lectures and was able to study scientific technics under a German professor Dr. Wagener who was a scientist from Chemistry Bureau.  Genzo learned the science and technology from Dr. Wagener.  One of the products that the Japanese wanted Genzo to do was to make a passenger carrying hot air balloon.  After 6 months of trying he succeeded and made the first hydrogen gassed balloon. 
Today people still use the hot air balloon.  In 1909 he manufactured the first X-ray machine in Japan.  After several inventions he was invited to the Emperor’s dinner party in 1930 as one of the 10 greatest inventors of Japan. Genzo went on to manufacture scientific instruments such as the spectrographs , Shimadzu manufactured Aircraft equipment, electron microscopes, liquid Chromatographs, gas chromatographs, testing instruments to test different materials for strength and durability.  In 1975 the Japanese company came to the United States. These instruments are used in all the science classes in all the University colleges and other companies that have to run tests on everything from the oil spill in Louisiana to the aspirin in your medicine cabinet.  The company has really grown since 1875 they are a worldwide company that has hit the $100 million dollar earning mark twice in the last 3 years.  So when you see Shimadzu Scientific Instruments on an instrument you can say this was all started with a hot air balloon invention.  My Entrepreneur was Genzo Shimadzu for having a great scientific mind to want to help better the world for over 100 years and beyond.
Websites  to visit:;  

Submitted by Karen Winiarski

Michael Heveron

How do you determine a successful entrepreneur? The best answer for this question is to look at the individual and the whole of his/her business endeavors. One very successful small business entrepreneur has made his mark within the state of Minnesota. Michael Heveron is the new CEO, owner, and entrepreneur of his own computer business “MDH Computers Inc.,” previously and currently associated as “Glacier Ridge Computing” (
Michael’s humble beginnings began on a farm in Minnesota.  At a young age in the mid-1980’s his grandfather introduced him to a computer.   Michael taught himself first how to play the games and then, after near mastery of that, delved further into the components of the computer.  His ability and determination with computers grew over the course of his teen years. Naturally, this inquisitiveness and skill with computers gave him a craving to learn more such as building and repairing computers. This led him to attend Alexandria Technical & Community College to pursue a degree in Computer & Voice Networking.  
With a wife and child by his side he began his own computer business MDH Computers Inc. In order to achieve this goal Michael returned to a previous employer and bought him out. Even though this change occurred Michael was still driven with the same idea as the previous owner: A need for affordable computing solutions in the rural market. Within a short time, thanks to Michael’s natural genius and 10 years of experience, his small business has flourished into a company including two additional employees selling and repairing software and hardware including the latest technology devices -from iPods, iPads, and notebooks to desktops and networking.  Currently, Michael has gained the trust and partnership of five vendors that allow him to successfully sustain and expand his business.  His business covers not only big name industries, but small residential homes as well. As an extra bonus either Michael or one of his employees will do on site work to ensure that everything goes smoothly for whatever the desire may be. Michael’s business stretches not only within the immediate town of his store, but over about 100 miles of towns and cities. This not only allows the business to get more customers for repairs of hardware and software, but also gives a competitive edge when dealing with computer hardware and software sales.
All the products sold are built from scratch by Michael and his team who are determined to stand by and sell only quality products that have longevity. Michael will also direct a customer into the right direction if he/she does not want to purchase a computer from him specifically.
            Attentive and determined for ensuring the business’s success, all of Michael’s spare time is devoted to developing a strong foundation for the new business and legacy for the old “Glacier Ridge Computing.” Recently asked if it was worth the effort and did he enjoy what he did - Michael replied, “I not only enjoy it, but love every second and wouldn’t haven’t any other way!” 

Submitted by Travis Athnos


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Entrepreneurs that change the world

We were given the assignment to pick an entrepreneur that has changed the world for the better. In my research I came upon Charles Best, CEO of . is a website that helps sponsor classroom projects in under privileged schools. The website allows teachers to take charge and become change makers. Teachers upload their ideas for class projects, field trips, and class improvements to the website, and then the public can choose which teacher they would like to sponsor and donate money towards their ideas. The program was started in 2000 at a school in the Bronx. Teachers at this school felt that school system funding didn’t evenly distribute resources, Shortages of learning materials discourage thorough, engaging instruction, and Top-down distribution of materials prevents teachers from developing targeted solutions for their students. Charles Best a social studies teacher sensed that the public was willing to give the money, but were wary to how it would be used, so he launched the website in 2007. Since then it has brought in over 14 million dollars to help out needy classrooms across the country.
The really cool part about the website is that you can search for projects that you find relevant or interesting, from pre-k reading activities, to basketballs for a physical education class, even zoo field trips. The website screens all the ideas before posting them, once posted and donated to the website purchases the materials requested and then follows up and delivers feedback to the donors. This gives the donors a sense of satisfaction and knowing that their money actually went to something useful. Since its inception, citizen philanthropists from all 50 states and 10 countries have funded over 32,000 classroom projects at, channeling over $14 million worth of resources to students in low-income communities. More than 75% of these resources are reusable for future classes. Donors Choose exposes people to the workings of public schools, and the dire need that many are in. this message hits hard and knowing that a few donated dollars can make a big difference in the education of our future, is the greatest feeling in the world. This idea is noble, innovative, and life changing, this is why I chose Charles Best as my entrepreneur that changed the world.

Submitted by Patrick Smith